Awesome Paralympic facts that you did not know until now
Here are some fun facts about Paralympics that you did not know until now.
- The first ever Paralympic Games was held in London in 1948 at the same time as the Summer Olympics, when German neurologist, Sir Ludwig Guttmann, organised a sports event for soldiers injured in the war. A small group of British World War II veterans took part. Then, in 1952, Dutch athletes participated too, and so the first international games for athletes with disabilities took place.
- The first athlete with a disability to compete in the able-bodied Games was German American gymnast George Eyser. He competed in 1904 with one artificial leg and earned six medals in one day: three gold medals, two silvers and one bronze.
- The Paralympic Games were initially open only to athletes in wheelchairs. All that changed in 1976 when athletes with different disabilities were included for the first time.
- The Paralympic symbol is made up of three “agitos”, coloured red, blue, and green, being the colours most widely included in national flags. The ‘para’ in the title is because the Games run parallel to the Olympic Games.
- London 2012 is considered the most accessible Games ever. Train platforms were widened, buses were made wheelchair-accessible, and river piers have been given ramps. More than 8000 London buses were fitted with the new iBus system, as well as an automatic radio and display announcement system for the visually- and hearing-impaired.There will be a total of 23 different sports taking place in 2016 Rio Paralympics.
- In 2008, South African distance swimmer Natalie Du Toit was the second person to compete in both Games. She also carried her country’s flag at both the Paralympics’ and Summer Olympics’ opening ceremonies, making her the first athlete to ever do so.
- At the Seoul games in 1988 the Paralympics were held in the same city and venues as the Summer Olympics for the first time.
- Today there are six disability groups in the Paralympic Games: Amputee, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord Injuries, Intellectual Disability, Visual Impairment and ‘Les Autres’, which means “the others” and includes all those who don’t fit into the other groups – for instance dwarfism, multiple sclerosis, and congenital disorders.
- Trischa Zorn of the USA is the most decorated Paralympian in the history of the Games. Her Paralympic career spanned 24 years from 1980 to 2004. She competed in the blind swimming events in 7 Paralympic Games, winning a total of 55 medals – 41 of which were gold.
- British swimmer Eleanor Simmonds became our youngest ever individual gold medallist aged just 13 at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics winning top spot in the 100m and 400m freestyle.